Can a skilled worker travel to the UK on the skilled worker visa or a business visa?
As UK immigration solicitors we can remember the time when all a business traveller to the UK needed was their passport and visa. Times have changed with the global COVID-19 pandemic. In this blog our Immigration solicitors look at whether skilled migrant workers can travel to the UK on a skilled worker visa or business visas as employers in the tech, digital and bio-tech sectors are asking the question whether their key sponsored employees can take up their sponsored Employment in the UK.
If you have questions about your business sponsoring employees under a sponsor licence on the skilled worker visa and the impact on your company of work and business visa COVID-19 related travel restrictions the friendly specialist immigration team at London based OTS Solicitors can help. Call OTS Solicitors on 0203 959 9123 or contact us online. Appointments are available by video call, Skype or telephone.
Is travel banned?
It wasn’t that long ago that the UK prime minister, Boris Johnston, was saying that the UK was open to business but many UK employers and those seeking to come to the UK on work visas and business visas are questioning whether business travel is banned. The short answer is that it isn’t for business and work travellers. That includes those who are:
- British citizens
- Those with settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme
- Those with indefinite leave to remain in the UK
- Those returning to the UK on valid work visas and business visas, such as the Tier 2 (General) visa or the sole representative of an overseas business visa
- Those seeking to enter the UK for the first time, such as those with skilled worker visas or start-up visas.
Whilst the UK government has placed bans on international holiday travel the ban doesn’t cover business travel. However, the government-imposed travel restrictions do impact on business travel, meaning that if you have employed a skilled migrant worker on a skilled worker visa and agreed an Employment commencement date you may need to look at the date that they can realistically start their sponsored Employment.
Can you travel for business using travel corridors?
There was much talk about the use of travel corridors facilitating international travel despite COVID-19 but the current state of affairs is that all travel corridors between the UK and overseas countries are closed. The closure of travel corridors applies to all forms of travel to the UK including plane, boat and Eurotunnel. No re-open date for travel corridors has been suggested.
The closure of the travel free corridors means that those wanting to enter the UK from overseas (anywhere outside the UK, Isle of Man, Channel Islands or Ireland) need to:
- Present a negative COVID-19 test obtained no more than 72 hours before their departure to the UK and
- Complete an online passenger locater form - the form can be submitted up to 48 hours before arrival in the UK
- Isolate for ten days on arrival. The ten-day isolation period can be reduced to five days if the test and release scheme is used. This test and release scheme can only be used if a COVID-19 approved test is booked in advance of travel and the traveller must isolate until the test result comes back negative.
The new COVID-19 travel measures are due to be reconsidered by the UK government on the 15 February 2021. The speculation is that travel corridors won't be reinstated but that the rules on isolation will be bolstered by a requirement for more travellers to have to isolate in an ‘isolation hotel’, rather than be allowed to self-isolate.
Immigration solicitors stress the importance of compliance with the COVID-19 travel related restrictions as non-compliance with the requirement to produce a valid negative COVID-19 test before travel, or failure to complete the passenger locator form, is a criminal offence. Non-compliance could result in:
- A fine
- Overseas nationals could be refused entry into the UK and this could impact on their Immigration record.
Is travel from some overseas countries to the UK banned?
In addition to the above travel restrictions the government has produced a ‘red list’ of countries where if you have been in or transited through one of the countries within ten days of your arrival in the UK you won't be allowed to enter the UK unless you are a British citizen, an Irish national or you have settled status or residence rights in the UK. If you fall within that limited category of travellers you can enter the UK but you need to isolate for ten days and you can't use the test and release scheme. The government intends to ramp up the isolation requirements though so you can no longer self-isolate in your own home but instead will need to isolate in specific accommodation.
The countries currently on this list are:
- Cape Verde
- Democratic Republic of Congo
- French Guiana
- Portugal (including Madeira and the Azores)
- South Africa
Are business travellers exempt from the need to self-isolate?
If you are planning to enter the UK for business or work purposes you may fall within a category of people who aren’t required to self-isolate. Immigration solicitors say that it is best to check and see if the rules have been updated before you travel as, for example, at one stage investors on investor visas and journalists didn’t need to self-isolate on arrival in the UK but that is no longer the case.
How can OTS Solicitors help?
Whether you are trying to enter the UK on a skilled worker visa or start-up visa or intra-company transfer visa it is a complex time to travel internationally, especially at a time of changes to UK Immigration rules and fast-moving changes to COVID-19 related travel restrictions. At OTS Solicitors our experienced business immigration lawyers are able to advise on business visa and work visa travel options so that UK employers and businesses can get the key staff they need into the UK as quickly as possible.
UK Immigration solicitors
OTS Solicitors are experts in immigration law and can help your business with its Immigration and employment law needs. The firm is recommended in two leading law directories, Legal 500 and Chambers Guide to the Legal Profession.
Our friendly specialist immigration solicitors can also answer all your work visa, business visa and skilled worker visa questions. For the best advice on sponsor licences and work visa options call OTS Solicitors on 0203 959 9123 or complete our online enquiry form. Appointments are available through video conference, Skype or by telephone appointment.